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GAMES CENSORSHIP COLLECTION

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Computer Games - Government Publications - Monographs
Journal Articles - Magazine Articles - Newspaper Articles
World Wide Web - Unpublished

World Wide Web

Numerous Web pages, both local and overseas based, have an undoubtedly high value in informing any researcher into the computer games censorship debate.  Only a select, but representative, few can be presented here.  As anti-censorship people are most likely to be both highly computer literate and knowledgeable about computer games, they are best represented in this section.  These resources are particularly useful for understanding overseas developments in the debate and for stakeholder and gamer demographics issues.  This page also includes additional Australian Federal Government resources of relevance in the debate.  These Government sources are instrumental in establishing who plays computer games and the effects of our current computer games censorship scheme.
 

Australian Bureau of Statistics [ABS]. (1998, November 2). 8146.0 More detailed analysis of the use of information technology in the home [Media Release]. Retrieved March 30, 2001, from the World Wide Web: 
http://www.abs.gov.au/

According to detailed statistical research undertaken by the Australian Government, as many as forty-four percent of adults who have a computer in their homes use it frequently to play games.  This compares with a figure of eighty-five percent for their children.  It may be deduced from these figures that a sizeable portion of adults are sufficiently familiar with computers, games in particular, to adequately supervise their children's use of such entertainment.
 

British Board of Film Classification [BBFC]. (2001, March 16). British Board of Film Classification - Policy. Retrieved April 4, 2001, from the World Wide Web: 
http://www.bbfc.co.uk/

The United Kingdom's censorship officials permit levels of sexual content in computer games sold in that country that would cause the same titles to be banned in Australia.  Such controversial games may receive a 15+ or 18+ rating, as do films that contain similar material, and thus be restricted for sale to those above a certain age.  See also Overseas Censorship.
 

Electronic Frontiers Australia [EFA]. (2001, January 27). Other censorship resources. Retrieved March 29, 2001, from the World Wide Web:
http://www.efa.org.au/

Although primarily a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting and enhancing the freedoms of Internet users, the EFA also supports other anti-censorship causes such as the right for adult computer gamers to buy and play games designed for their age group.  This support is reflected in the links they provide to other censorship resources on their Web site such as to external anti games censorship sites.
 

Entertainment Software Ratings Board [ESRB]. (2001). About ratings and descriptors. Retrieved March 30, 2001, from the World Wide Web: 
http://www.esrb.org/

In the United States, most games are rated by the ESRB.  This organization provides a wide-ranging system of ratings that takes into account the needs of many age groups, adults included.  Consumer advice is also provided so that all interested parties can have a better idea as to the exact reasons for the rating on any particular title.  See also Overseas Censorship.
 

European Leisure Software Publishers Association [ELSPA]. (2001). One step ahead of the game. Retrieved August 16, 2001, from the World Wide Web: 
http://www.elspa.com/

Many games sold in Europe carry the age category rating of the ELSPA.  As with the UK and US ratings systems, they allow games to be specifically rated for adults only.  Like the ESRB system, it was developed by knowledgeable games industry bodies to avoid imminent tough government imposed regulation.
 

Graham, I. (2000, April 22). The state of censorship: Fact, fallacy and urban myths. Retrieved March 29, 2001, from the World Wide Web: 
http://libertus.net/

One of the EFA's most prominent members exposes what she sees as the negative myths surrounding computer games.  Taking a strongly anti-censorship position, she explains and supports her contentions with considerable evidence.  Most of the common accusations against computer games are addressed in some way. 

Another notable generalist Australian Web site dedicated to fighting local censorship has been created by the Watch on Censorship organisation.


Hamrick, L. (1998, April 2). Sex in games. Retrieved April 6, 1998, from the World Wide Web:
http://www.gamecenter.com/

Taking note of the controversies caused by sexual content in computer games, a division (GameCenter) of one of the Internet's largest news and information Web sites (cNet) interviewed several people, all connected to the games industry in some way, so that they could air their views on this contentious issue.  Interviewees included actual games player, game designers, and games journalists.  Somewhat predictably, no one protested too strenuously against sexual content in games, those who did protest did so mainly out of the fact they considered sex to get in the way of a good plot and associated gameplay.  Most interviewees took an anti-censorship position.
 

MacIsaac, J. (1996, August 13). Games and laws around the world.  Retrieved August 15, 1996, from the World Wide Web: 
http://www.gamesmania.com/

In a rare move, a major games review Web site decided to compare games regulation legislation in various countries around the world.  Such countries included Australia, the UK, the USA, Canada, Germany, France, and Japan.  Concerns about games within each of these countries tend to differ and different regulations have arisen because of such variation of opinion.  No one country is placed above or below another as the various cultural traditions are well respected by the article's writer.
 

Office of Film and Literature Classification [OFLC]. (2001b). OFLC Database Search. Retrieved August 8, 2001, from the World Wide Web:
http://www.oflc.gov.au/

This comprehensive listing of all computer games banned by the Australian censors reveals that no game has been banned in the past three years.  Games initially banned but then permitted, and games allowed only in permanently censored versions do not appear on the list.  Games permitted in many overseas countries but never submitted for classification in Australia are likewise absent. 
 

Stewart, C. (2001, January 27). Plans for r-rated computer games. The Australian [On-Line]. Retrieved January 27, 2001, from the World Wide Web:
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/

With the convergence of technology that has allowed the dividing line between DVDs and computer games to blur (see Tender Loving Care), the OFLC decided to launch a re-evaluation of the guidelines currently used to rate computer games.  In particular, and in full accordance with their five years of research on this issue, they proposed the creation of an adults-only category for computer games.  Upon learning this news, Young Media Australia protested, arguing as they have for years (and against the most recent OFLC research) that such a rating would be harmful to minors. 
 
 

© Anthony Larme 2002
larme@hotmail.com
Comments and questions are most welcome